The backlash began to erupt online after Warner Bros. announced on Tuesday that the $90 million Batgirl will not be shown in cinemas and will not be offered to streaming service providers in connection with the merger with Discovery. Much like the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut craze that led to the re-release of Justice League, a backlash was growing on the Internet especially over the fact that Batgirl Star Leslie Grace is a Latina American.
Despite the criticisms, CEO David Zaslav said on the company's Q2 earnings call on Thursday that the studio would not be releasing a film that it doesn't believe in.
“We're not going to launch a movie until it's ready,” Zaslav declared. “We're not going to launch a movie to make a quarter and we're not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it.”
Zaslav told the press that the company should concentrate on sharpening its DC brand and creating high-quality films.
“These are brands that are known everywhere in the world,” he declared regarding DC characters. “And as part of that, we’re going to focus on quality. DC is something that we think we could make better and we’re focused on it now.”
“The objective is to grow the DC brand to grow the DC characters,” he said. “But also, our job is to protect the DC brand. And that’s what we’re going to do.”
In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement, a Warner Bros. Pictures Spokesperson stated that the shocking decision to not release Batgirl and the upcoming Scooby-Doo movie is a result of Warner Bros.'s “strategic shift” in the DC Universe.
“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” stated the spokesperson. “Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor and this decision is not a reflection of her performance. We are incredibly grateful to the filmmakers of Batgirl and Scoob! Holiday Haunt and their respective casts and we hope to collaborate with everyone again in the near future.”
Batgirl was initially planned to be a HBO Max release, but the budget apparently grew higher than the $90 million mark due to limitations during the pandemic. Although it was in post-production, Warner Bros. decided that it wasn't appropriate for a theatrical release. Insiders told TheWrap that the heads of the studio believed that it “did not work.”
“The new owners and management, led by CEO David Zaslav, are committed to making DC titles big theatrical event films, and Batgirl isn’t that. Insiders added that studio brass loves the film’s directors and star, and are actively planning to work with them soon,” reported the outlet.
This week, Batgirl directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah told the press that they are “saddened” by the studio's decision.
“We still can't believe it,” Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah wrote in a shared Instagram post.
“As directors, it is critical that our work can be shown to audiences, and while the film was far from finished, we wish that fans all over the world would have had the opportunity to see and embrace the final film themselves. Maybe one day they will insha’Allah.”
Leslie Grace called herself “my own damn hero” and expressed gratitude to her fans for their support.
“THANK YOU for the love and belief, allowing me to take on the cape and become, as Babs said best, ‘my own damn hero!' #Batgirl for life!” she posted on Instagram.